I bet your dog loves to chase after anything and everything? If so, you might find that bubbles serve as a great game and enrichment tool. Some canine companions love nothing better than to jump and snap at the bubble and watch them burst. While this all looks like innocent fun, is there a chance that this is actually dangerous for our pets?
Dog bubble games can be safe and fun with the right precautions. Most commercial bubble mixtures contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs. However, you can buy dog-friendly solutions which shouldn’t cause any digestive problems if ingested or you can make your own with some simple ingredients at home. Bubbles are a brilliant way to provide enrichment for your dog all year round.
Why are dog bubble games such a great form of enrichment for your pet?
Bubble games with dogs are a great way to bond, get some exercise outside, and test out their skills. This is a simple game where the whole family can enjoy the patterns and colours of the soapy bubbles. Dogs can also use this time to practice their coordination and agility while having fun with the family.
Bubbles can be especially good for older dogs and dogs with arthritis as they can still stretch and move about without too much impact and stress on their joints. Same goes for you as the owner, you can sit in a chair and blow bubbles if you too have mobility issues. Bubbles are a win-win for both dog and owner.
What happens if your dog eats the bubbles? Are they at risk?
Unfortunately, some products that are classed as non-toxic may not be safe for pets. There is the risk that if dogs ingest too many bubbles, or accidentally drink the solution, they could end up with side effects like chemical burns in their mouths, upset stomachs, and other signs of gastric distress. It’s best to check the labels for chemicals just in case.
What bubble solutions are safest for pets?
There are three options if you want to play dog bubble games with your pet. You can either:
a) Monitor your dog carefully while using a kid-friendly bubble solution.
b) Find a bubble solution specifically made for dogs.
c) Make your own bubble solution ( jump to recipe)
Kid-friendly bubble solutions are fun and accessible but require supervision.
Kid-friendly solutions may have ingredients with toxicity for dogs if ingested. Most are classed as gentle and non-toxic for kids, but that doesn’t mean that they are 100% safe for a dog. There could be something in the soap or in the fragrance that will act as an irritant. Homemade options may be safer if you can use more natural ingredients.
Keep an eye on how long your dog plays with the bubbles and keep the solution away from them. Most of the time, your dog shouldn’t ingest enough of the solution for there to be a problem. They might bite at the bubble and get the residue in their mouths. Be careful that small dogs don’t do this too much and watch out for signs of distress. Also, keep the container of fluid out of reach so that they don’t end up drinking it.
But, kid’s solutions are more accessible and affordable if you have a small family. The dog-friendly solutions below are great if you want to make your dog the focus of the activity. However, many kids will love using traditional bubble blowers at home. They are an affordable source of fun so just keep the liquid away from dogs.
Dog-friendly bubble solutions are a safer option and often more engaging for your pet.
Dog-friendly bubble solutions don’t have the same chemicals and risks via ingestion. Obviously, you don’t want the dog drinking this either and need to maintain the same levels of care when it comes to setting up the bubbles and storing the liquid. But, the formula should be perfectly designed for use with dogs for a safe playtime activity.
You can play as long as you want and make even bigger bubbles. This lower risk to your pet’s health means there isn’t the same need to limit your time playing. You can spend as long as you want creating massive bubbles and patterns for them to chase. You can even work on making things more difficult to test their skills.
You can even find some solutions that have interesting scents and flavours. Some brands that lean into the idea of a safer formula for dogs will provide something that even tastes nice. Kids might not like the meaty smells of flavoured bubbles as much as normal bubbles, but dogs will be more inclined to bite the bubbles out of the air.
Homemade pet friendly bubble mixture solutions
- Cookie cutter
- Fly swat
- Colander ( if you've made a bowl full of bubble mixture!)
You need to use 1 part eco-friendly washing up liquid to six parts water. So if you have 100ml of washing up liquid, use 700ml water.
1. Start by dissolving a stock cube into some hot water. Then add to the rest of your water.
2. Add a little of the dish soap at a time and stir in slowly so you don't make lots of bubbles.
3. Use a jar or bottle with a tight lid to seal the mixture and leave it to rest overnight. By resting you will have bigger, longer lasting bubbles.
You can use anything with holes as a wand:
Add a tbsp of glycerin to make your bubbles last longer.
How do you teach a dog to chase bubbles?
1) Teach your dog how to engage with the bubbles from an early age. Puppies love bubbles!
There isn’t always a natural instinct for dogs to play with bubbles because this isn’t something that they have encountered before. You may even find that some pups are a little startled. The sooner you start introducing bubbles into playtime, the more comfortable and proficient they will get.
2) Show your dog how much fun it is if they are not interested at first.
If your dog doesn’t seem to be interested at first, they may just need some encouragement. There isn’t any clear idea of what the bubbles are and why they want them. But, if you go in first and show clear signs of enjoyment when popping bubbles, your pup may join in. Show them where to go and have fun with them.
3) Get a bubble machine rather than a bubble blower so you can join in too.
Bubble machines take the game to another level with bigger bubbles and steady, consistent streams. Not only are these more fun to chase, but it lets you play along. Find a reliable model online, set it up with the right solution, and play as often as you want.
4) Be prepared to clean a sticky mess off of your dog’s face afterwards.
Some bubble solutions can leave a bit of a sticky residue after the bubbles burst. This could result in some of the solution in the fur around your dog’s mouth. Take care to clean this off for them, rather than letting them lick it off.
Why does my dog love to chase and play with bubbles?
It’s probably something to do with your dog’s inbuilt prey drive. The act of chasing, pouncing and popping is intensely satisfying for both dogs and humans. Bubbles that are made for dogs with flavours like bacon also give a tangible taste reward ( like a treat) when the dog catches a bubble, reinforcing the behaviour so they do it again, and again, and again. That’s positive reinforcement in action.
In short, there are lots of benefits to dog bubble games when you use the right bubbles and a good machine. A nice-tasting formula with lots of big engaging bubbles never ceases to be fun. This can offer enrichment and exercise for all kinds of dogs all year round.